USDA National Wildlife Research Center Symposia


Date of this Version



The use of synthetic predator odor semiochemicals as area repellents has considerable potential for protection of forest and agricultural crops. Certain predator odors originating from feces, urine, or scent (anal) gland secretions elicit a "fear" response when detected by prey species. At least some genera (e.g., Microtus) appear to have an innate response to these odors. Synthetic constituents from the weasel family (Mustelidae) have been particularly effective in laboratory and field bioassays with a variety of mammal species. Semiochemicals from the stoat (Mustela erminea) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) have successfully reduced feeding damage to forest seedlings by snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus). Synthetic compounds from stoat anal gland secretions have generated significant avoidance responses in voles (Microtus montanus and M. pennsylvanicus) and northern pocket gophers (Thomomys talpoides) in small-scale field trials. When applied on a larger scale (1-4 ha), some degree of population disruption has been recorded for both pocket gophers and montane voles. Field trials of semiochemicals for protection of coniferous tree seedlings from feeding by black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) have yielded inconsistent results. However, commercialization of semiochemical products (mammal management devices) is expected in the very near future.